Tuesday, April 30, 2013

SPINE SURGERY-- getting home after surgery

Maybe the most important thing I can say to you is:  Don't expect other people to understand - you're not a cripple, but you can't pick up those shoes off the floor!  Or that piece of lettuce.  And you can't run to the gate to catch the city's home bus service.  Or stand for a half hour at the airport or anyplace else.

My younger daughter, Kaye, brought me home from rehab. 

Luckily I got the walker before surgery, from the first hospital stay.  And I had had some company deliver a shower chair.  Kaye was staying in the wonderful house of a friend.  She took me (and the shower chair) over there for a shampoo and shower, and a nap.  She had brought me some clothes that covered the abbreviated remains of the brace.  She even took my picture and ours together. 

One evening we decided to eat dinner out. I had not been doing that for a long time, partly because I hadn't been able to drive, and partly because of the drastic cut in my hours where I had worked.  When we got there, the restaurant had stairs going up from the parking lot.  I was so jazzed by the rare outing and wearing a real dress that I decided the rehab had better work:  I grabbed the excellent railing and climbed the stairs.  I needed that outing so much, and I hope you have such a fine experience after your surgery.

 Fortunately the apartment had heavy carpeting and a bathroom for me.  In my room was my posture chair and ottoman, which would become my base of operations to save wear and tear on the leg nerves that had taken a beating before surgery. 

The surgeon had also arranged for a different visiting home health service. (I have to say here that the hospital rehab social worker had been useless about that, but someone at the hospital did help my daughter by phone.)  I think I've already written in here about the first visiting nurse and her instance on the rush trip back to the surgeon that turned out not to be an emergency. 

My daughter had searched out an in-home help service that I would pay for. The owners came to call for some reason, all jolly, and assured me they had the perfect helper.  Her job would be driving me to get food and to doctor appointments.  She also would be doing laundry because I could lift very little, and the pavement near the laundry room was a mess.  A totally overworked social worker came over and talked to my daughter in the patio, but all he could do was get me a dollar off the rate for the home helper.    

A cane had been ordered, but I don't think I had one yet. 

Those first days with my daughter were perfect, and I didn't realize then how much I would look back on them.   I hated to see Kaye leave.

The ongoing recovery wasn't fun.

I was more comfortable than I expected, got a lot of rest, served myself the food brought from the market salad bars, supper bars, hot food bars and whatever.  But at best, especially because of still not driving, the recovery period was no substitute for the life I had known even six months before.


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